Dreaming more than others think is practical… (African Proverb)

This proverb echoed so much in my imagination as Frank Crawford (Chief Inspector HMIe) explained the above at the AHDS Annual Conference in 2009.

These words encapsulated what Active Play & Learning is all about.

It was a fantastic experience to take part in the “Workshop Programme”. I am delighted to share our work with you.

I have been part of an innovative and dynamic team led by Mrs Wood & Mrs Dalrymple, who have always encouraged Forward Thinking, Learning in Context and working co-operatively. “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, was the theme of the Conference for my Workshop. Yes they do exist! We were going to re-write the story and tell others the exciting news.

No longer were we going to pay lip service to the concept of Active Learning. We were going to cut the suit to fit, as we became Enablers more than Teachers.

Often it is not until someone compliments you on the look of your new suit, how it flatters your figure, makes you look successful, that you begin to appreciate its fit. It’s the same with CfE & Active Learning. When someone notices the “buzz”, motivation and maturity of the children in your class you begin to understand how CfE & Active Learning are affecting the student’s experience.

For the Teacher (Enabler) to cut the suit to fit the following Active Principles must be at the foundation of all teaching.

  • The teacher must have a clear idea of the destination of the lesson
  • The teacher must listen to the children’s voice ( learning engagement)
  • A clear base-line of knowledge must be established
  • Children must be actively involved in the planning
  • Children must have ownership of learning activities
  • Clearly set Targets must be shared.

To demonstrate the above the children of Tulloch School Perth, Primary 1, who are the real authors of this article, shared with all a recently planned topic:

“What is School All About?”

Points for Investigation were considered and outlined in the new Futures Planning Format used in Perth & Kinross.

The Big Question:

“What is School All About?”

Points for Investigation:

  • Learning new things.
  • Be an Author, Illustrator & Publisher

As a class we decided to learn how to write stories. We used Floppy, an ORT Central Character, to find out what we already knew. Over an extended period a story was mapped out on a large, winding, structured Interactive Story Wall.

The children added ideas and illustrations as the story unfolded. New characters were “Hot Seated” as they appeared so as to be included in the story. The young Authors and Illustrators were using their imagination and a range of language activities.

The story was eventually completed and the children decided to compile it into a book to share with others. The work to make the book was undertaken co-operatively by all, using their own particular skills and talents.

The Two Targets set by the children had been accomplished:

  • Write a story for Floppy
  • Share our story with others

We became the “Scaredy Cat” Publishers.

This was the first of our Publications. Others followed, were priced and as an Enterprise Activity sold at profit to the whole school!   We decided to have a party with our well earned income to celebrate our success!

We used a similar process in Maths and Number research. Working as Number Detectives we investigated and solved challenges posed to the class. All tasks once again contributed to the Point for Investigation “learning new things.”

We found Peter Patilla’s strategies to be so motivating and inspiring when carrying out our work.

Polly the Parrot & Freddy the Frog (hand puppets) led the Investigations and were totally believable as our Model Detectives. The children have totally bought into this concept and can often be found choosing the Puppet Detectives to help in their Learning Activities.

One child tried to explain to me:

“Freddy’s not real Mrs Lamond”, but on reconsidering, recanted saying “Of course he is!”

Going back to our African Proverb, CfE and Active Learning help us to:

Risk more than others think is safe.

Expect more than others think is possible.

We hope that you enjoy wearing The Emperors New Clothes!

Carol Lamond

Tulloch PS